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White Sox Prospects in Person: Chris Beck

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Second-round pick from 2012 starts season in Winston-Salem with less bulk and better stuff

Chris Beck says he found his old arm slot.
Chris Beck says he found his old arm slot.
Steve Orcutt/Winston-Salem Dash

This past winter, national prospect evaluators turned to Chris Beck when completing their top-10 lists for the White Sox.

The reasoning mostly hinged on what he accomplished in 2011 as a sophomore at Georgia Southern University, as well as the Cape Cod League season that followed. He stood out enough to draw high-first-round buzz entering his junior year in 2012, but his effectiveness diminished due to a corresponding decrease in velocity.

His stock also dropped, as he lasted until deep into the second round, when the White Sox selected him with the 76th-overall pick. They thought they pinpointed the reason for his fall: Beck bulked up to his detriment, and was too restricted to really let it fly. If they could get him on a plan to redistribute his weight, they could get his stuff back to its old state.

The early returns in instructional league and spring training were enough to warrant the customary aggressive assignment for 2013. The White Sox started him in Winston-Salem, even though he hadn't pitched in Kannapolis, and Pioneer League hitters batted .319 against him over 40 innings at Great Falls last season.

Two weeks in, he's handling the jump well, carrying a 0.00 ERA through two starts. He was charged with three unearned runs in his first outing on April 7, but he pitched six scoreless with six strikeouts against Carolina on Saturday.

Talking to Beck between starts at a recent Winston-Salem Dash game in Frederick, Md., Beck says the new plan with conditioning coordinator Dale "The Demon" Torborg is paying off.

About reshaping season to season

"It's hard. In my junior year I started throwing in a completely different way. I was really over the top; my hips were tight, my chest was tight. Not to say I lifted the wrong way -- I mean, I kinda did -- but I didn't go about it the right way. The competitive juices got into me in the weight room, and sometimes lifting smarter than lifting heavier is the way to go.

"That was the big thing coming back this year. I came back flexible, and my arm feels a lot better. My shoulder felt like it was about to blow up at one point last year ... just all the stress, the way I was throwing over the top. But that's back on track. I got some sink back on my fastball, and my body's handling this weight a lot better. [...]"

"I'm back to the 90-95 [mph] range. My junior year in college, I was in the 89-91 range, just because that was all I could really get out of my body, as tight as it was. Velocity's there, the movement's back, the body is feeling better. I'm carrying the weight a lot better. My body wasn't made for 240 pounds. 14 pounds lighter, it handles a lot better."

Tasks for 2013, besides numbers

"First year full-season pro ball, the biggest thing is staying healthy. For me, it's getting deep into starts. [...] Me and J.R. [Perdew, Dash pitching coach] have been working on a curve ball, and that's come a long way. I'll probably look to throw it a little more, and learn to approach the pitching game better than I have in the past."

About his stuff

Two-seamer: "That I'll throw in the 90 range."

Four-seamer: "I'll sit 92, 93, 94, and I'll run it up there every now and then."

Changeup: "My favorite pitch is my changeup. I throw a circle change."

Slider: "It was said in the past I threw a cutter. No cutters, just accidental ones from the slider."

Curve: "I'd definitely say the slider's ahead of the the curve. I just started throwing the curve in spring training. It's made leaps and bounds, just throwing it for a month, month and a half."

What about a cutter? "[The Sox] are a big advocate of the cutter, especially J.R. J.R. loves it. That's actually all I throw naturally in BP. Hitters hate it. It's a great pitch. Maybe one day down the road, but right now just the slider and the curve ball."